When should you believe your partner is going to change, especially when you have been asking for change and have not seen much movement? Is there change but at a very slow pace and a much slower pace than you want?
What things should you look for in order to say, things are getting better? Again your partner may be moving much slower than you would like for them to move, but they are getting better. When do you decide, I’m going to stay around since I know that if I stick this out our relationship will thrive.
I’m sure many of you reading this have been through a defining moment in your relationship before. It can be a hard decision to stay when there is little to no movement with your partner’s progress. It can be even harder to leave because your thoughts of feeling and even looking like a failure can take over. You may think about what your friends and family would think. Even more importantly there are those thoughts of your time being wasted. So, what do you do?
Here are five things to look for and think about in order to make an informed decision to stick around in your relationship a little while longer or not. Also, remember you are not alone. It does not matter what the issue and/or concern is. You are not alone! Each and every one of us have seen our relationships ebb and flow. Every relationship has great times, then bad times. Every couple has peaks and valleys. So, you must understand that even when you think you are alone and going through everything alone, you are not.
My name is Marshaun Olaniyan. I am your favorite life and relationship strategist. And I help women who are married or in long term relationships to stop feeling disconnected and unloved and shift them to feeling heard, understood and appreciated. One of my purposes in life is to help decrease the divorce rate while simultaneously increasing the marriage rate.
He/She is involved in a proven process of change
The very first thing to look for is his or her involvement in a proven process. The process has to be in alignment with some form of change. In this case, is your partner in some type of coaching program? Are they going to some type of therapy? Are they talking to a preacher, a pastor, a mentor or a trusted elder? Is he or she actually implementing the advice into your relationship?
What you are looking for is involvement in a process that is going to help change their behavior in order to be a better spouse. This also helps you to be a better spouse which leads to you guys creating a healthy, romantic relationship together, so it does not feel one sided.
There is a monitoring system in place for check–ins.
The second thing you are looking for is a monitoring system to be in place for check-ins. What this actually means is a way to hold your partner accountable. You can ask questions such as, “Hey, did you go and talk to the therapist?” Or, “Hey, did you actually make you doctor’s appointment?”, or ask “How are things going?” Maybe there is something that is happening internally with him or with her that he or she is not comfortable sharing with you as of yet. This is okay. What you are looking for during the check-ins is for him or her not to be agitated or irritated by you asking probing questions. When you are
checking in, you do not want to press and prod for information. You want to allow your partner the space to share if he or she wants to, not because it is mandatory. This ensures your partner feels as though they still have a sense of privacy until they are ready to share whatever it is that is happening with him or her.
Look at it like this. For example, your school age kids have to do homework. Your child did not do his homework unless you ask them about it, right? Then you have to go a little bit deeper and ask, “let me see the homework.”
This is the check-ins system mentioned above, even with your children. Your partner will be no different, especially if you are thinking this may be your last straw. Checking in holds your partner accountable to do what they said they were going to do in order to shift your relationship around. So, you can get back to falling in love, having a lot more sex and enjoying the relationship with one another. Also so neither party is experiencing unrequited love.
He/She is involved in self-sustaining motivation
The third thing you want to look for is self-sustaining motivation. You do not want to be the only party that is hoping, wishing and praying or nagging them in order to go to therapy or coaching. You do not want to feel like you have to nag them, they must want to improve. Observe his or her behavior. How many books have they read on relationships? Is he or she willing to admit what they are doing is not working? Look for progress in the form of your partner getting coaching or therapy, reading books, attending seminars and conferences or listening to podcasts. Look for new exposure and experiences he or she has tried to implement into the relationship. Again, you should not have to always push, prod and poke your partner. He or she must be doing these things on their own as well. You cannot keep up the motivation for him or for her. He or she has to do that for themselves. Now, you might start it, you might give them the motivation to start doing these things, but you cannot sustain their motivation to be better in the relationship, to show up better in the relationship or to be better off where both of you are enjoying the relationship. Your partner has to want this for him or herself.
He/She needs to admit they need change
The fourth thing is, they have to admit, at some point, that they need this change. He or she must admit this change is needed more than ever because it is destroying everything they have built, everything they have ever wanted and dreamed about, all the things they have attained and it is affecting every area of their life. He or she must admit they need to change and then do something about it. Just talking about it is not enough. It is the actions that have to follow behind their words. The action is the part that elevates you to the next level. When you are scared to have those tough conversations due to some form of lack in the relationship, such as, you missing attention and affection. In order to receive what you crave is by speaking up about your truth. You will never receive your wants or needs by remaining silent. You also have to remember, this is your love language, not your spouse’s love language, necessarily.
Again, he or she must admit and even own the fact that they have an issue or problem that they cannot solve on their own. And, they have to want to be better and search for ways to become a better partner and person overall.
Have a support system
The fifth thing is they need a support system. And that support system is you. Ask yourself if you are supporting your spouse. Or are you being his or her parent? Are you supporting your spouse or are you always poking, prodding and nagging? Are you being a great support system where he or she can lean on you with everything, so at some point they feel super comfortable enough to open up to you and allow you into their inner world, so you guys can grow together, so the distance you currently feel can go away? This is going to take practice. It is not going to happen overnight.
In closing, if you are not built to be the support system, if you are not built for this to take some time, in order for you to see and experience the fullness of joy, the fullness and possibility of happiness between the two of you, then you probably should walk away. This is just me being real because relationships are a journey. They are a marathon. They are not a sprint. Your relationship did not get this way overnight. Your partner changed gradually over time, so it will take some time for him or her to replace old habits and old behaviors with new ones.
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All the best,
Life & Relationship Strategist